The Spinal Injuries Association (SIA)

The Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) is a leading UK charity which provides invaluable support to people who have suffered a spinal cord injury. The charity’s support starts from the moment someone becomes paralysed and continues throughout their lifetime.

Raquel Siganporia, head of Bolt Burdon Kemp’s spinal injury team, is a trustee for the Spinal Injuries Association and past Senior Vice Chair (2013-2016) for the charity.

As specialist spinal injury lawyers, Bolt Burdon Kemp are delighted to be a corporate partner of the SIA and to be able to use our expertise to support its aims and mission.

Bringing a claim for compensation

If you are successful with a claim for compensation and liability is admitted in full, the law states that you should be put back in the position you were in before the negligence. This means that, so far as is possible and reasonable, you should be able to claim money for the extra expenses you will now incur as a result of your spinal cord injury, which you would not have incurred otherwise.

This is in addition to being compensated for your losses which now put you at a disadvantage. The law tries, as best as possible, to level the playing field but it is limited to providing you with financial compensation only.

Many people need more than just financial compensation, especially in the early days of their injury, and this is where the SIA and its partners can help.

Anyone who has suffered from such a traumatic injury needs urgent and accurate advice and information about the law, as well as practical day-to-day matters.

Raquel Siganporia, Head of Spinal Injury at BBK and Vice Chair of the SIA, became paralysed in 1993 as an eleven-year-old. She has acquired a wealth of knowledge which enables her to provide vital legal advice combined with a genuine understanding of the many issues people face when first injured.

At Bolt Burdon Kemp, we believe that access to information and support on the everyday matters is key to ensuring that someone feels able to adapt to their new circumstances.

We work closely with the SIA and other spinal charities to ensure our clients have access to a range of support that enables them to successfully rehabilitate themselves as far as possible, and to do things they would not have dreamed of doing immediately after becoming paralysed.

If the injured person needs state or local government funding for support, they can be left navigating a minefield. Our close links with the SIA and other charities can put you in contact with people who understand your situation and can advise on what help is available.

What services do the Spinal Injuries Association offer?

The Spinal Injuries Association has a range of services, advice and campaign-led activities.

Every day advice and information

The SIA has an advice line which provides information to individuals, relatives and friends to help them understand more about spinal cord injury. The advice line provides support and practical information on a range of topics that people with a spinal cord injury encounter on a day-to-day basis, such as housing, returning to work, funding and holidays.

Peer support

It has often been said that the best support for spinal cord injured people comes from their peers. If you have received treatment in a spinal cord injury unit, you will have probably had support from other people with similar injuries who are also undergoing rehabilitation. You will also probably want to know what life is like a year, or more, down the line.

You may even want to know how others have managed, what has worked well for them and what has been less successful. Support whilst undergoing rehabilitation is immensely useful but support upon discharge from either a hospital or spinal injury unit is vital.

Many people find that it is only when they have returned to the community that their rehabilitation really begins and it is often at this point when the most amount of support is needed. We recognise this reality and aim to have provisions in place to support our clients with this transition, where possible and subject to funds.

In any event, whether you have funding or not, we believe the peer support services from the SIA provide invaluable advice at this crucial junction.

Funding care after discharge from hospital

A spinal cord injury affects every aspect of daily life. Those who sustain a spinal cord injury will receive care and treatment whilst in hospital but not necessarily once they have been discharged. These needs continue and ongoing support may be needed in order to live independently in an accessible environment, ideally your home.

The SIA can provide information to individuals and their relatives to help them understand the different types of funding options available. The SIA is also able to assist with applying for the funding most relevant to the individual’s care needs.

The SIA has a Continuing Healthcare advice service which can provide information and advice on all aspects of NHS Continuing Healthcare, and can assist with preparing for an assessment or review of funding.

NHS Continuing Healthcare is not currently means tested.

The SIA also has a Social Care advice service. Social Care funding can help you access services needed to achieve everyday tasks, such as looking after yourself and the home, or enabling engagement with the community.

Local councils can either arrange nearby services for the individual, or pay the funding direct to the individual with the spinal cord injury through Direct Payments. If funding is received through Direct Payments, the individual with the spinal cord injury will have to organise and pay for their own care using the funds.

Social Care is means tested which, depending on your level of income and savings, means you may be asked to pay some or all of the costs of your care.

Campaigning, education and healthcare policy

With many healthcare services facing cuts from the government, people with a spinal cord injury need a voice. Some people will have been treated within a spinal cord injury unit and others will have been treated in a district general hospital.

The SIA campaigns on issues relating to spinal cord injury to ensure specialist advice and understanding continues.

Ensuring the needs of spinal cord injured people are recognised and addressed by society and healthcare policy is key to enabling individuals affected by spinal cord injury to rebuild their lives.

As the Senior Vice Chair of the SIA, Raquel Siganporia has been heavily involved with these various aspects and championed the needs of the SIA’s members.

Raquel helped draft the 2014 national guidelines for the prevention and management of pressure ulcers for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). These guidelines have been implemented nationally across all public healthcare settings.

Raquel, with the SIA, has also provided comment in the media on the often discussed topic of spinal cord repair. Ensuring society understands that becoming paralysed means more than just the inability to walk is vital.

Spinal cord repair will only be truly successful when it is able to repair not only the ability to walk but also bladder, bowel and sexual function, as well improve pain levels, and, for tetraplegics, improve or repair hand function.

Raquel and the SIA recognise the hard work many spinal injury healthcare specialists and individuals provide to people when they sustain an injury.

Raquel sits on the SIA Rebuilding Lives After Spinal Cord Injury committee, which hosts an annual awards ceremony that seeks to recognise these achievements.

Bolt Burdon Kemp is delighted to be a Diamond supporter of the SIA. The support given helps the SIA provide several of the services listed above.

If you or a member of your family has been unfortunate enough to have suffered a spinal injury as a result of an accident or substandard medical treatment, our specialist spinal injury solicitors can assist you in bringing a compensation claim against the people and/or organisations responsible.

Please contact our specialist spinal injury team on 0203 6279 929 or complete our online spinal injury enquiry form.

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